Summer Slim-Down meal plan: Week 4

Follow our eight-week summer meal and fitness plans to look and feel your best, without feeling deprived. This week’s focus: The importance of variety, and substitutions to lower calories

Summer Slim-Down meal plan: Week 4

Source: Web exclusive, July 2011

Eating right takes time and commitment. Commitment is something you personally control and it shows in your actions, and in your results. Time, on the other hand’well, that’s something we never have complete control over.

In the absence of time we tend to take shortcuts and stick with what works. But don’t let monotony be your diet downfall.

Variety is the spice of life

‘You need to increase variety so you don’t get bored,’ says registered dietitian Mary Bamford. ‘It’s very tedious to eat tuna every day, it’s very tedious to have Greek yogurt every day’but when you’re in a hurry, that’s what happens.’

Instead of eating tuna or salmon, try other varieties of fish to ensure you don’t get bored. Or if having a small Greek yogurt as a snack each day is convenient for you, add a new fresh fruit each day to mix it up, suggests Bamford. Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries will add a delicious burst of flavour, with the added benefit of their healthy nutrients and antioxidants.

Where (and when) to save on calories

While you’re increasing variety by introducing new foods and recipes to your diet, consider the results you’ve seen so far. Do you need to adjust your caloric intake at all? If you have yet to see the results you’re looking for, try decreasing your daily intake by 50 calories.

You don’t need an entirely different meal plan to do this. Instead, play with ingredients: substitute a lower-calorie replacement or eliminate one ingredient in a meal to meet your new caloric goal.

Just don’t forget the importance of a good breakfast, cautions Bamford. If you’re going to eliminate calories from a meal, make sure you’re still having a breakfast that’s at least as big as, if not bigger than, lunch or dinner, since you’ll need the most energy earlier in the day.

Try these changes to your meals

Bamford suggests making any one of these substitutions to take the 400-calorie Veggie Omelette recipe from Week 1 to only 350 calories.

‘ Use one whole egg and two egg whites instead of two whole eggs. You’ll decrease the number of calories you’re consuming by 50 without losing any protein.

‘ Choose 4% milk fat hard cheese over 20% milk fat low-fat cheese. You’ll save 50 calories in 1 ounce, and still get 10 g of protein.

‘ Or, if you’re simply looking to mix it up, substitute the side of toast with a whole-wheat wrap and turn your omelette into a veggie breakfast burrito, perfect for an on-the-go breakfast.

Just as it’s the little things that add up when you’re counting calories, all it takes are a few substitutions to cut back on calories. Try these 9 ways to shake up breakfast, and start your day with a little more variety.

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